From evidence to proof: Social network analysis in Italian criminal courts of justice
Special Collection on Artificial Intelligence
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute
School of Business and Law / ECU Security Research Institute
Social network analysis has changed the way scholars and analysts look at human relationships and it has also helped understand why, when, and how specific behavioural choices and resultant legally relevant interactions are made. Legal documents such as laws, policies and court cases are increasingly used as the starting point for such analysis, yet, its practical application in the judicial procedure is sparse or non-existent. This raises the following questions: is it possible to use social network analysis as an investigative and judicial tool to implement the production of evidence in court? More importantly, how would it account for helping public prosecutors, judges, juries and defenders in presenting evidence during a trial? In which ways could the analysis of a network contribute to the creation of a legal proof? In this paper, arguments are presented for understanding how this implementation is possible and answering the above questions. There are opportunities but also potential pitfalls to introducing network analysis as a means by which proof can be created. The paper will draw from the context of the Italian criminal courts of justice and its criminal procedure laws in order to understand how social network analysis would fit and behave, especially in the pursuit of serious crimes. Social network analysis in criminal courts of justice can be successfully adopted not just as an investigative tool, but also as a cost-cutting filter in preliminary hearings and as an efficient threshold for sentencing, enabling judges, prosecution and defence to give and asses evidence. These advantages, however, still present potential bias such as the limits of the criminal network and the subjective way the network could have been built.
Securing Digital Futures
Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems